Local officials are struggling to come up with money to fund a study of the Highway 47 corridor between Washington and St. Clair.
At a meeting of the Highway 47 Corridor Committee this week, there was discussion of whether local government entities should contribute an equal amount to the estimated $200,000 study.
St. Clair Mayor Ron Blum said his town’s board of aldermen is reluctant to put $50,000 toward the study since it may not benefit as much from a Highway 47 widening project as the cities of Washington and Union and Franklin County.
First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker told Blum that widening Highway 47 benefits the region as a whole.
Blum said he is confident his board is willing to contribute some amount of money for the study.
Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said he thinks the entities should have an equal share of the cost.
The county is facing budget problems, Griesheimer said, adding that he has a hard time with the county kicking in anymore money.
“All you’ve got to do is read the newspaper on how dire our needs are,” Griesheimer said.
Officials are still considering having the study done even though money to pay for the actual construction is not available right now.
Plans to widen the north/south artery took a step backward when the Legislature failed to pass a transportation sales tax bill this year.
Local officials had banked on the tax being the primary funding source for the project, which they say is needed to relieve congestion and improve safety.
But with hopes of the tax passing in the future and the chance of other funding sources becoming available, the committee is still looking at getting a study done.
This way, if funding becomes available, the preliminary study work will already be completed.
“My philosophy has always been, get it ready and the money will come,” Missouri Department of Transportation Area Engineer Judy Wagner said.
MoDOT could start managing the study this fall, Wagner said.
Before the study gets under way, letters of commitment from local government entities must be submitted to Wagner.
Even if the construction did not take place for many years, the study would still be usable, Wagner said. The study would look at how motorists use the corridor. It would also identify the need for the project. The study is required by the National Environmental Policy Act, Wagner added.
On Wednesday, the city of Union was the only entity that had submitted a commitment letter for the study, and that was for $50,000.
However, Franklin County verbally agreed to fund at least $50,000 of the study.
Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy said she would go to her city council to seek a commitment of $50,000 for the study.
Wagner said MoDOT may reimburse the cost of the study to the cities and county once the project is funded for construction.
The Washington Special Road District may also be able to contribute some funding for the study, said Bernie Westhoelter, road district commissioner. He said he would discuss it with the other road district commissioners next week.
Brinker said he thinks it would show unity if the road district contributed money toward the study.